Dogs and people in Aboriginal communities: exploring the relationship within the context of public health

Senior, K, Chenhall, R, McRae-Williams, Eva, Daniels, D and Rogers, K (2006) Dogs and people in Aboriginal communities: exploring the relationship within the context of public health. Environmental Health, 6 (4). pp. 39-46. ISSN 1832-3367

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Aboriginal people and dogs have a very long association. The archaeological evidence suggests that the dingo, which was intentionally brought to Australia, was present from about 3500 years ago. Dogs introduced by European settlers quickly replaced or interbred with dingoes at Aboriginal settlements. The outsiders’ view of Aboriginal dogs appears to be polarised into two distinct groups. Dogs are either described as a health risk and a reservoir for a range of diseases, or are glossed over as being sacred and ceremonially important. Neither view has really examined the complexity of Aboriginal relationships with the dog, or the fact that attitudes towards dogs might be variable from region to region, and that attitudes to dog and dog ownership are not culturally static. This paper provides a review of the anthropological literature concerning people’s relationships with dogs and the perceived function of dogs in communities, supplemented by insights from research in South East Arnhem Land. It will then relate these findings to dog health and dog control programs and stress the importance of developing these within a community development framework.

Item Type: Article
Field of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2010 01:36
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2011 23:40

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